In Budapest, after stealing Russian codes from a courier working for an individual code-named “Cobalt”, IMF agent Trevor Hanaway is killed by assassin Sabine Moreau. Jane Carter, Hanaway’s team leader, and newly promoted field agent Benjamin Dunn free Ethan Hunt from a Moscow prison, along with Ethan’s source, Bogdan. Ethan is tasked to infiltrate Moscow Kremlin archives and locate files identifying Cobalt. During the mission, someone broadcasts on the IMF frequency, ordering the detonation of a bomb and alerting the Russians to Ethan’s team. A bomb destroys the Kremlin. Benji and Jane escape, but Ethan is captured by SVR agent Anatoly Sidorov. Ethan escapes and meets the IMF Secretary, who is in Moscow on another matter. The U.S. President is forced to initiate “Ghost Protocol”, disavowing the entire IMF. Ethan and his team are to take the blame for the attack, but the Secretary unofficially orders Ethan to track down Cobalt. Before Ethan can leave, the Secretary is killed by Russian security forces led by Sidorov, but Hunt and intelligence analyst William Brandt get away. Brandt identifies Cobalt as Kurt Hendricks, a Swedish-born Russian nuclear strategist. Hendricks plans to start a nuclear war. The Kremlin attack also conceals his theft of a Russian nuclear launch-control device. His next move is to launch a nuclear missile at the United States in “retaliation” for the Kremlin attack. For this, he needs the activation codes, now possessed by Moreau. The team learns that the exchange between Moreau and Hendricks’ right-hand man, Wistrom, is to take place in the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. After successfully gaining control of the cameras and elevators, Ethan and Brandt pose as Wistrom and Leonid Lisenkar (a cryptographer who accompanies Wistrom to authenticate the codes) respectively and Jane as Moreau in different suites to fool both sides. However, Moreau notices a gadget in one of Brandt’s eyes. While Jane detains Moreau, Wistrom (actually Hendricks in disguise) gets away with the launch codes. When Moreau attempts to escape, Jane kicks her out a window to her death. Brandt accuses Jane of compromising the mission for revenge (she loved Hanaway), but Ethan accuses Brandt of keeping secrets from them, as he has demonstrated combat skills atypical of a mere analyst. Ethan leaves to meet Bogdan. Brandt then confides that he was assigned to protect Ethan and his wife Julia in Croatia. While Brandt was on patrol, Julia was killed by a Serbian hit squad. Ethan killed the Serbs, got caught by the Russians and was sent to prison. Bogdan’s relative, an arms dealer, informs Ethan that Hendricks will be in Mumbai, where an obsolete Soviet military satellite was sold to Indian telecommunications entrepreneur Brij Nath. The satellite can be used to transmit launch codes to nuclear missiles. While Brandt and Benji infiltrate Nath’s server room to deactivate the satellite, Jane gets Nath alone and forces him to reveal the satellite override code. Hendricks sends a signal to a Russian Delta III-class nuclear submarine to fire a single missile at San Francisco. Afterwards, he has Nath’s servers infected with a virus and the broadcast station is partially dismantled. While the other team members bring the broadcast station back online, Ethan pursues Hendricks and the launch device. Ethan and Hendricks fight in an automated car park; eventually Hendricks jumps to his death with the device to make sure Ethan cannot reach it in time, but Ethan finds a way to reach it. Ethan deactivates the missile just in time. The warhead crashes harmlessly into the water. The dying Hendricks witnesses the failure of his plan. Sidorov arrives and realizes that the IMF is innocent of the Kremlin bombing. The team meets in Seattle after Ethan accepts a new mission from Luther Stickell. Brandt confesses to Ethan about his failure to protect Julia. Ethan, however, reveals that her “death” and the murder of the Serbians were part of a plot to give her a new identity and enable Ethan to infiltrate the prison. A relieved Brandt accepts his mission. Ethan and Julia gaze at each other from afar before going their separate ways.